A room to stimulate the senses and calm anxiousness is now open at Aberdeen Hospital, a care facility on Hillside Avenue.
The therapeutic sensory room, or the “Snoezelen Room,” is filled with elements such as coloured lights, bubble tubes and fibre optic cables.
It is for any patient or staff member to go into when feeling anxious or need time out to relax, said Johanne Hemond, recreation therapist at Aberdeen Hospital.
“It’s an opportunity to take some time out, which is really important in a facility like this,” said Hemond. “These people don’t have [the] privilege like we do to just get out of the building and go places where they know they can relax. So this gives them [an] area where they can do that.”
Snoezelen is a mix of two Dutch verbs. Snuffelen, meaning to seek out or explore, and doezelen, meaning to relax.
Dutch therapists created Snoezelen in the 1970s when they found success using sensory-stimulating objects as a kind of therapy.
Completed at the end of May, Aberdeen’s therapeutic sensory room officially opened earlier this month.
It was funded by Island Health, Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation and the Juan de Fuca Hospitals Auxiliary.
So far the response at Aberdeen has been positive.
“The care staff have been bringing residents in when they’re feeling like they need it,” said Hemond. “Residents love it.”
One of the challenges in designing the room was making it not seem too childish, said Hemond.
“You don’t want to degrade [residents] to that level.”
Resident Marya Brown finds the sensory room to be helpful. She suffered a stroke five years ago, resulting in her losing the use of the left side of her body and she often gets migraines.
“I can go in there and calm down and can prevent migraines even,” said Brown. “The lights and the movement of them are very calming. So if you have any stress at all, it melts away in that room. It’s amazing.”
Similar rooms exist elsewhere in Greater Victoria.